Vicky Emerson – Wake Me When the Wind Dies Down
Vicky Emerson’s reputation in the Americana scene will be higher than ever before on the heels of her new album, Wake Me When the Wind Dies Down. This talented singer/songwriter is making her mark in a crowded field of talent thanks to her skill, undoubted sincerity, and superior supporting cast. The band backing her on the new album plays like they have nothing to prove – no self-indulgent virtuoso trips, no overstatement. The songs are kept short and to the point. Much of the praise for this should, of course, be directed towards Emerson – her first two albums proved her to be one of America’s finest working songwriters and the latest release only doubles down on that growing consensus. These are ten songs crafted to communicate and they hit their targets without fail.
Wake Me When the Wind Dies Down begins with “Under My Skin”, a hopped up acoustic shuffle with an Emerson vocal full of attitude. The accompaniment never overreaches and, instead, fixes its attention on laying down an indestructible backing track for the vocalist. “Rattle Shake” is the album’s first foray into ballad-type material, but this successfully straddles a line between light AOR pop colored with country instrumentation. The result is a rustic toned, but thoroughly modern, piece of songwriting. Emerson goes a little more retro with the southwestern flourishes of “Long Gone” and wraps a lyrical tale of hard times, regret, and betrayal around the marvelous arrangement. Her stylistic dexterity becomes even more apparent with the folky “Silhouette” and her vocal is, arguably, the album’s best. Patrick’s stunningly beautiful guitar playing might challenge even the best singers, but Emerson rises to the challenge with a gently yearning vocal. “Save All My Cryin’ (For Sunday Afternoons)” expertly mingles a little light humor into its classic country pathos and Emerson takes over the lyric with a great deal of brio and feeling.
The album’s final half opens with another folk number, “Lyndale”. Emerson keeps her lyrics vague enough that you can never quite pin down what she’s specifically referring to in some instances, but this song shows how that technique, used correctly, encourages listeners to make their own connections. I have a feeling that this tune, perhaps, might be closet to Emerson’s own heart and combines with the preceding number for an impressive one-two punch. “September Midnight” is an extended romantic ballad suffused with moments of true melancholy, but any hint of sadness is washed away by the players’ exquisite sensitivity. Wake Me When the Wind Dies Down ends with the fun closer “Follow the Moon”. This is nearly pure bluegrass, banjo excepted, and brushes past the listener in a little over two minutes and change. Emerson delivers her most relaxed vocal yet.
Few albums are more ideal for a summer evening or, perhaps, a rainy day. This is mood music with a different. While Emerson and her cohorts might create atmospheric soundscapes, they never lack melody or message. Vicky Emerson keeps gathering steam as her careers moves forward and Wake Me When the Wind Dies Down is her most significant stride yet.
9 out of 10 stars.